Owners Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry are adding final touches to the 2,500-square-foot building they expanded into next door, at 32 Water St. The original, three-story space at 30 Water St., north of Broad Street, will nearly double in size with the new addition — which will be good news for the droves of drinkers who have been crowding in every night.
“It’s something we have no choice but to address. We need to get bigger,” Muldoon says. “Our biggest problem is that we’re too busy. The current Dead Rabbit is too small for the amount of business we were having.”
The first piece of the expansion — the ground-floor taproom — opens a week from today on Thursday, December 20. The space will accommodate 125 additional people. The smaller, second-floor cocktail parlor is also gaining some space, but that portion will only open in February. Meanwhile, the third floor will be reserved for events.
When fully completed, the Dead Rabbit will be big enough to fit 250 drinkers, compared to the current 100.
The expansion includes a bigger kitchen, and the owners say they plan to add new, U.K.-inspired dishes like steak, egg, and chips to menu next year. Plus, weekly dish specials like the fried fish sandwich, Irish stew, and chicken curry will now be permanent choices.
New drinks are expected some time next March, says beverage director Jillian Vose, who now has an ownership stake in the business. For now, over 200 bottles of Irish whiskeys will be available.
Brunch will also be refreshed. Muldoon and McGarry say they never truly focused on the meal, but plan to “take it up a notch” next year. The Dead Rabbit will open at 10 a.m., an hour earlier than usual, in hopes of attracting a larger brunch crowd.
It’s part of an effort to somewhat tame the clientele the bar is now attracting, the owners say. That being said, they’ll get rid of the DJ normally present on weekends and bring in live entertainment instead — a move meant to tame that “boisterous” party crowd, Muldoon says.
The Dead Rabbit’s imminent taproom will mirror the original in terms of decor, with hundreds of photos hanging from exposed wood beams on the ceiling. It comes with a new full-sized bar and two classic Irish pub “snugs,” or small private spaces that groups can sit in. And a souvenir shop will sell books, T-shirts, and more. Irish coffee will also be poured from another dedicated bar.
Bar owners say the expansion was necessary for the bar to keep up its reputation as one of the best bars in America. Since opening in 2013, the Dead Rabbit has become known globally for combining craft cocktails with the laid-back vibe of an Irish pub; sawdust covers the floor. The Dead Rabbit grew so busy in recent years that staff struggled to keep up the top-notch service it’s known for, they say. Muldoon and McGarry were faced with two options, to turn people away when the bar was too full, or to expand.
But the first one was never really an option. “An Irish pub should never have a strict-door policy,” McGarry says.
The Dead Rabbit’s taproom is open daily from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.